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Friday, Dec. 9,

The Melody Inn

Music doesn’t always have to be ground-breaking or even innovative to be worth listening to; a lot of acts make careers out of imitating the golden days of soul, the blues, punk, etc. Every genre seems to have repeaters, bands that are out there making noise—and good music—while treading ground that’s been pretty well trampled. However, it helps if said genre had its peak long enough ago so that people feel kind of amused by hearing that style of music performed live again.

I’m trying to say, as gently as possible, that the Minneapolis-based Melismatics seem stuck in a 2002/2003, early Strokes, Electric Six territory; sharp, angular, back-and-forth guitar riffs, hard beats with the odd disco touch thrown in, and song lyrics with that kind of hard-rock attempt to reveal emotion (“Puzzle Missing Pieces,” “Your Love is a Poison,” etc.).

All the same, they did show some bright spots that suggest a new direction might be forthcoming on their new album set to come out in January, called MANIA!. Specifically, I’m talking about the song “Lost the Feeling,” on which they use a high-pitched swirling synth-effect to add a more lofty and cerebral element to their sound. Overall, on Friday they used the synth to their advantage, they just didn’t use it enough. I’m normally a proponent of faster-paced guitar rock, but in this particular case I’d like to see this band slow down and unwind. If “Lost the Feeling” is indicative of a change in direction, the new album might be worth a serious look.

Hailing from Chicago, the Vaudevilains opened before the Melismatics. Oddly enough, the same criticism about innovation seems applicable. The band is obviously talented and can summon a serious wall of sound, but it’s a question of what they’re trying imitate and, if not trying to imitate, what are they trying to do.

The lead singer had a Dave Grohl-esque tone in his voice, prompting comparisons to the Foo Fighters, and they use a lot of distortion and a five-string bass to generate the fat, grinding & angsty guitar sound of Pearl Jam. They just aren’t quite angsty enough and their music comes off as too structured to really pay tribute to alternative or grunge. One rather opinionated on-looker compared them to, “Placebo…if you took away everything you loved about Placebo.” While that also seems apt, I suppose can’t complain too much about a live band that puts me in mind of the Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam. They played loud, they played well, they’re a hard-working outfit on tour.

Indianapolis-based country/bluegrass band The Cousin Brothers opened up the night. Featuring a stand-up bass and banjo, these guys actually seemed to be the main draw, as the Melody thinned-out sharply after their set. They played a cover of “The Humpty Dance,” and an original composition called “F—k The S—t Out of You.” Need I say more?

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